Huskies outlast GVSU despite late surge

GVL / Robert Mathews
Brandon Barkley (left) and Darren Kapustka (right)

GVL / Robert Mathews Brandon Barkley (left) and Darren Kapustka (right)

Jay Bushen

Senior point guard Rob Woodson drove the baseline from the corner, leaped into the paint from the low block, twisted around a 6-foot-9 defender in midair, and spun in a reverse layup while parallel to the hardwood. And he drew a foul.

Woodson and junior shooting guard Ryan Sabin were doing all they could to turn a late 18-4 run into a victory for the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team at the Fieldhouse Arena on Saturday, but in the end, Michigan Technological University lived up to its billing as the top 3-point and free-throw shooting team in the nation by hitting key shots down the stretch.

“We were pretty determined and pretty competitive — we just weren’t good enough,” GVSU head coach Ric Wesley said. “We made too many mistakes against a good team to get the job done.”

The Huskies made 11 three-pointers and 21-of-24 free-throw attempts in the victory, which moves them past GVSU and into second place in the GLIAC North. Jason Hawke’s triple with 1:18 left broke a 68-68 tie and proved to be the dagger.

Hawke came off the bench to supply 20 points, while the GLIAC’s leading scorer, Austin Armga, made all nine of his free throws on his way to a 25-point afternoon.

“We put them on the foul line a lot this game,” Woodson said. “We were just giving them free points. We fought, but we should have limited some of the easy baskets that we gave away.”

He finished with 12 points, a game-high six assists, three rebounds, two steals and no turnovers. It was his third straight game with at least 11 points and five assists.

Sabin scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field to go with three rebounds and two assists. It was his fifth 20-plus outing in seven games.

The Lakers, who began the regular season 8-0, have been consistently inconsistent in 2014 with a 7-6 record.

“That was a tough loss for us,” Woodson said. “We really haven’t got it going since the break, we haven’t had a winning streak, but we’re not going to put our heads down.”

A balanced scoring attack has simply not been there on a game-by-game basis.

The team showed flashes in a 69-61 win over Northern Michigan University on Thursday night when all five starters scored in double figures, but it ultimately finished a four-game home stand with a 2-2 record.

“We’re not a bad team,” Wesley said. “We’re a pretty good team. There’s not obvious problems; it’s just little things. It’s maximizing our possessions and minimizing the breakdowns we have, whether it’s fatigue, communication or not playing personnel correctly.”

GVSU has not scored more than 70 points in back-to-back games yet this season but, despite its 2014 mediocrity, is just three games out of first place.

Sabin said the team needs to find a way to put it all together in its last five games.

“We need to be more mentally engaged than we were,” Sabin said. “There’s got to be a sense of urgency. Rob’s our only (fifth-year) senior and he only has a certain number of days left. We’ve got to do it for Rob, he’s had a great story here, and not just for him but for everybody.”

GVSU trails Lake Superior State University by three games in the overall conference standings but will have an opportunity to gain ground with an 8 p.m. tip on Thursday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.